This week, a whole host of biopics highlight the Blu-Ray and DVD choices hitting shelves. Leading the charge is Jason Reitman‘s underrated “The Front Runner,” though it’s hardly alone. Today also brings a pair of Oscar nominated biopics to the party as well. Curious what else is on the slate? Well, read on for more!
PICK OF THE WEEK
“The Front Runner”
Sometimes, a project just comes out at completely the wrong time. Jason Reitman’s take on the Gary Hart scandal is sharp and timely, but opted to come out around Election Day. Go figure, audiences weren’t in the mood. That’s a shame though, as this is such a well done film, with a terrific lead turn from Hugh Jackman. The Wrap got it, writing the following in their take:
It doesn’t tell us how we should feel or pretend to know all the answers. For some, that might be frustrating, but “The Front Runner” delivers more than enough provocative material to make it a wild, occasionally hopeful, often depressing ride.
“The Front Runner” is going to be discovered soon, mark my words. Give it a shot this week and see what we mean. As an added bonus, our interview with Reitman is here, as is our chat with co-writers Matt Bai and Jay Carson (here).
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,000,105
Major Awards: Won Actor of the Year (for Jackman) at the Hollywood Film Awards
This Palme d’Or winner from the most recent Cannes Film Festival and nominee for Best Foreign Language Feature at the Oscars is rich cinema. Arguably, this is filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s best work yet. Our rave review out of the most recent AFI Fest explains why:
Kore-eda manages to tell both a compelling narrative and a slice of life human story all in one. It’s Palme d’Or win at Cannes was no fluke. “Shoplifters” is a tale to behold.
“Shoplifters” likely will fall short at the Academy Awards, but that takes nothing away from its power. Pick it up and you’ll understand why!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,869,535 (and counting)
Major Awards: Won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival
In honor of this week’s release of “Fighting with My Family,” the pick today is going to be an inspirations sports story. It’s “Warrior,” an MMA take on the “Rocky” tale. With phenomenal performances from Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte, you really get caught up in the power of it all. We’ve recommended it before, and will be doing it again today. From our rave review here on the site:
The film is about a lot of things. It’s about the damage a father can do to his sons, it’s about the difficulty inherent in sewing together a fractured family, it’s about the lengths one will go for the ones that matter the most, and it’s about, in a very real way, the American spirit.
“Fighting with My Family” is a true story and a real crowd pleaser. Prep for it with this fictional tale today!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the recommended duo of “The Front Runner” and “Shoplifters”:
“At Eternity’s Gate”
Willem Dafoe is up for Best Actor this year for playing artist Vincent Van Gogh. His work is quite good, though it’s surrounded by an often hard to watch film. A number of pundits were big on it, though most of us on staff didn’t care much for it. Admittedly, “At Eternity’s Gate” was never going to be for everyone. Time Out had this mixed take:
An incomplete exercise that lacks crucial emotional brushstrokes despite a rich palette and a piano-heavy score, At Eternity’s Gate still offers the thrill of being inside an artistic process, adoringly interpreted.
Dafoe is strong. Every other aspect? Not so much.
Box Office: $2,259,226 (and counting)
A surprising Oscar juggernaut, this tale of Freddie Mercury and Queen has undoubtedly over-performed. When you factor in the issues with fired director Bryan Singer, it’s kind of shocking. Plus, the movie itself is rather average, notably mainly for Rami Malek‘s impressive turn as Mercury. Clayton was mixed on the film, though big on Malek, as you can see here:
Rami Malek‘s all-encompassing performance vibrantly steals every scene he inhabits. It’s an excellent portrayal of an excellent musician. A flawed movie surrounds him but his captivating acting and bustling persona smooth out the rough spots.
Malek alone can’t fully save this one, regardless of the controversy.
Box Office: $209,554,432 (and counting)
“The Happy Prince”
This biopic of Oscar Wilde sees actor Rupert Everett step behind the camera to tell the tale, in addition to starring. Initially thought to be a potential awards player, it never really caught on. Such is the life of an indie biopic sometimes. The Hollywood Reporter had this to say:
An absorbing but shapeless bio-drama that never gains much steam.
Make of this one what you will.
Box Office: $466,440
The latest Tyler Perry comedy sort of came and went without making much of a mark. Could the filmmaker be losing some of his influence? That remains to be seen, but this title just didn’t really find its mark. Variety was unimpressed:
It’s another Tyler Perry film with a lot of lessons, and I don’t want to come off like I’m looking down on that (which I don’t), but good lessons don’t necessarily add up to a good movie.
Box Office: $31,713,110
“State Like Sleep”
This mysterious drama actually makes the odd decision to cast Michael Shannon in a completely ordinary supporting role. Katherine Waterston gets a rare leading role and runs with it, but the final product is lacking something. This was what indieWire put out into the world:
A narcotized neo-noir that unfolds with the diverting purposelessness of a forgettable dream, Meredith Danluck’s State Like Sleep doesn’t really go anywhere.
It’s just too uneven to recommend.
Box Office: $4,282
“Under the Eiffel Tower”
Just put into limited release in theaters over the weekend, this dramedy now hits Blu-Ray and DVD. It’s a forgettable vehicle for Matt Walsh, though it’s interesting that they also have “Veep” co-star Reid Scott in the cast. Unfortunately, that never translates into the laughs that you’d hope for. The Hollywood Reporter actually was rather charmed by this, as you can see:
Under the Eiffel Tower works better as comedy than drama, and feels more like fantasy than romance. But it also has a sweetness that’s impossible to entirely resist.
It’s a real missed opportunity for buddy comedy gold.
Box Office: N/A
Special Criterion Collection Section
For the first of two Criterion releases to discuss this week, we have another effort from Rainer Werner Fassbinder. An epic film, told in thirteen parts, with an epilogue, no less, is a real mouthful. It’s not for the casual viewer, but if you’re willing to invest, it could be something special. The Collection sells it like so:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s fifteen-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz, based on Alfred Döblin’s great modernist novel, was the crowning achievement of a prolific director who, at age thirty-four, had already made over thirty films.
Fassbineder completists should give it a shot!
The other title joining the Collection today is Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Oscar nominated star vehicle for Brigitte Bardot. Her performance in particular is really of note here. In fact, Criterion praises her quite a bit in their sales pitch:
With an astonishing performance by Bardot, Clouzot’s affecting and intricately constructed film—a huge late-career success for the French master—renders a harsh verdict against a hypocritical and moralistic society.
Something else to consider!
“American Vandal: Season One”
“Nightflyers: Season One”
“Rick & Morty: Complete Seasons 1-3” *Joey’s Pick*
“Step by Step: The Complete Fourth Season”